You’ve definitely either seen or heard of Kendall Jenner’s controversial new ad for Pepsi that ended up getting cancelled. If you’d like to watch it for the first time or refresh yourself, here is the infamous ad:
It’s clearly a very distasteful way to sell your product, but why exactly are people so outraged?
The main issue that people have with this commercial is the choice of celebrity. Pepsi could have chosen a person who actually uses their public platform to campaign regularly and speak out for people and causes that need it. Kendall Jenner has never given her support to any social justice movement and therefore should not be receiving payment to feature in an advert that attempts to celebrate peaceful protest. The biggest hypocrisy is that Kendall has never been vocal about the huge problem of police brutality in the US yet she is the one to bridge the gap between civilians and police officers in this ad. A more fitting feature for this video would have been somebody like Malala Yousafzai, Kendrick Lamar or Chrissy Teigen – people who have actually done something to help social causes. Kendall Jenner may not realise it but she is everything that people who need to protest and campaign are not. She was born into a rich, celebrity family in a safe and secure part of the United States and she has had everything (including her modelling career) handed to her on a silver plate. Most people who are genuinely talented and good-looking won’t make it as model or a celebrity, yet Kendall who is not a particularly gifted model waltzed straight into the job with no questions asked. Why feature a celebrity who is so out of touch with the lives of regular young people and minority groups in an advert with a social justice rhetoric? Especially given the fact that Kendall’s sister, Kylie, has been accused of cultural appropriation which – even though it’s an issue that doesn’t bother every person of colour – is something that a person in the public eye should avoid.
Of course, Kendall can’t help that she was born into wealth but there are plenty of children with celeb parents who don’t choose to profit from the oppression of others. For example, Jaden and Willow Smith are both environmental activists and have protested and used their social media platforms to speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They use their fame to spread awareness of the issue to their huge number of followers and fans and therefore, they would have been a more appropriate celebrity feature.
Whether Kendall Jenner realises it or not, she has profited from the exploitation of vulnerable and oppressed groups of people. She made the decision to do so and should not get a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. The right thing to do would have been to reject the role and suggest that they find a more fitting celebrity; one who actually could be part of the solution to America’s many problems instead of a symbol of social elitism and disproportional wealth.